inspired by the recent threads on this list I have tried my first grain
batch, up to now all I have done was sugar. the results are interesting to
puzzling, so I would ilke to share them with you and hope that some of you
more experienced folks could enlighten me on the more vexing bits.
this is how it went:
- I brought 12l of water to a boil, then added 2kg flaked rye to gelatenize
it. this seems to have worked, it quickly turned into a very thick
- I waited (stirring occasionally) until it had cooled to 40C, then added
1kg maris otter pale malt. at this point the consistency was very thick,
hard to stir. I now also put the pot back onto a stove and set it to 50W
to keep it at temperature.
- after 15 minutes it had thinned considerably. I did check the pH which was
roughly 5 and and did a lugol test (just to check that it was working),
which of course came back positive. the mash tasted dry and like flour.
I turned up the stove to 1kW with the plan to go through a 50C, 60C, 70C
step rest mashing process
- after ten minutes it had reached 50C, and already tasted slightly sweet.
set the stove to 150W to keep at temperature.
- after 15 minutes, the temperature had risen to 56C, rather than stayed at
50C. the stove seems to lag a bit... set the power to 1.5kW
- 8 minutes later temp had reached 60C, so back to 150W
- after 15 minutes i decided to prolong the rest at this temperature as it
was still quite starchy (lugol), and because I was a bit unsure about the
rest lengths anyway.
- after a total of 40 minutes at 60C, lugol was still positive, but it
tasted much sweeter and a bit like sawdust (as far as I know what sawdust
tastes like ;). turned the power up to 1kw, being more cautious now. pH
was still ~5
- after ten minutes, temp was at 65C. reduced power to 500W
- now it gets murky: even after a while at 70C, lugol still came back
positive. I was expecting the conversion to be finished by now. so I gave
it some more time, but still no luck. so I decided that my malt must have
been expended or so, and let the temperature drop to 60C, added another
500g of malt and 2l of water. then let the temperature slowly rise back to
70C. I started this after 3 hours since first adding the malt. it got pretty
late so at some point, so after 5 hours since first adding the malt I
switched the whole thing off and let it sit over night.
- in the morning lugol was negative, the wort was like a thick soup and pH
was still ~5. I quickly heated the whole thing to 80C to sterilize it a
- I separated the wort from the grain with a garden sieve, rinsing with some
hot water and putting pressure on it with a barbell plate. a cider press
would have come in handy, the leftovers definitely were still quite wet and
sticky. this gave me 8l of wort, still at pH ~5, lugol of course still
negative. specific gravity was 1090. the wort was pretty soupy, so I
filtered a little bit with a coffe filter, which gave a much clearer
liquid with a specific gravity of 1080
- I pitched some rehydrated safale s-04 and left at room temp (~19C).
happily bubbled away, but not vigorously
- after 7 days the fermentation had stopped, but no real sedimentation was
happening. pH was 4.5 and SG 1018. the wort tasted yeasty of course, and
quite alcoholic. would not make a great drink, but wasn't overly offensive
- rough cut still run: intially at 1kW once it had reached some temperature
switched to 500W. first drops at 49C
- temp quickly rose to 56C in 4 minutes, product quite fould smelling
- after another 4 minutes temp was at 81 and the foul smell had gone, this
is where I started to collect
- 7 minutes later 89C, another 4 91C where it stayed for a while. after ten
minutes it had risen only 1C.
- 56 minutes after the first drop I stopped collecting at 93C because the
product felt different on the fingers, was no longer fragrant/alcoholic and
had a hollow smell
- this gave 237ml (only), at 67% abv (!)
- I did also dry the leftover grains and weight them. thsi gave me 1.75kg,
of the 3.5 that I put in, exactly 50% I was hoping that would tell me
something about the yield
- the result (only a rough cut, remember) tastes ok apart from one really
bad component. more on this below
I came away with a couple of puzzling points:
- my conversion got stuck somewhere in the middle, but I do not know why. do
I just need to allow for more time? how long do you folks leave the wash
at the rest temperatures? or is my amount of malt to little? perhaps I
killed the enzyme by overcooking it, the wash is quite thick so it would
have been hotter at the bottom than at the top (I did stir a lo though)
- my grain leftovers, when dried, still weight 50% of the original weight.
is that a bad extraction efficency? the leftovers must still have
contained a lot of sugar because they were quite sticky, perhaps more
rinsing would help
- alternatively I could of course ferment on the grain. I heard most people
do that, is anyone *not* fermenting on the grain? does separation after
fermentation get any easier?
- based on the specific garvities, the fermented wash should have had about
8% abv. unfortunately I did not write down how much I put in the still, I
lost quite a bit during trub separation. if we assume 6l, then that would
be 480ml of raw alcohol. but I did only collect 158ml of raw alcohol,
somewhere I must have lost most of it. what are typical rates for
- assuming 70% starch in the grain, this should theoretically give me 2.7kg
of sugar, which in turn should 1.35kg of raw alcohol or 3.45l. this is of
course a totally unrealistic upper limit, but given that I only collect
4.5% of that, the losses still seem quite high...
so my main questions are:
- how much malt do I really need? is 1/3 of the bill too little? and how
much time do I have to allow for the conversion?
- should I ferment on the grain? is separation after fermentation any
- how much alcohol do you guys typically get from your grain? I do of course
not really care about the yield, but am after taste. but it looks like
there is something fundamentally wrong in my process...
- the rough cut has one bad taste component. I cannot describe it of course,
but interestingly it was hard to detect by smelling but quite obvious when
tasting. I assume that this means it is not very volatile, has a high
boiling point. I have also tasted the exact same thing in quite a few
other homebrews, both grain and sugar. This bad taste seems to wear off
quite quickly, after two months it is hardly detectable anymore. does
anyone know what that could be?
the postive result for me is the high alcohol content before and after
distillation. This means that with some tuning and correct cuts, this type
of wash could be turned into a drink with a single distillation step, which
I think could be interesting. does anyone have positive experiences with
single-distilled grain spirits?